GARHWAL, or Gurwal. 1. A district of India, in the Kumaon division of the United Provinces. It has an area of 5629 sq. m., and consists almost entirely of rugged mountain ranges running in all directions, and separated by narrow valleys which in some cases become deep gorges or ravines. The only level portion of the district is a narrow strip of waterless forest between the southern slopes of the hills and the fertile plains of Rohilkhand. The highest mountains are in the north, the principal peaks being Nanda Devi (25,661 ft.), Kamet (25,413), Trisul (23,382), Badrinath (23,210), Dunagiri (23,181) and Kedarnath (22,853). The Alaknanda, one of the main sources of the Ganges, receives with its affluents the whole drainage of the district. At Devaprayag the Alaknanda joins the Bhagirathi, and thenceforward the united streams bear the name of the Ganges. Cultivation is principally confined to the immediate vicinity of the rivers, which are employed for purposes of irrigation. Garhwal originally consisted of 52 petty chieftainships, each chief with his own independent fortress (garh). Nearly 500 years ago, one of these chiefs, Ajai Pál, reduced all the minor principalities under his own sway, and founded the Garhwal kingdom. He and his ancestors ruled over Garhwal and the adjacent state of Tehri, in an uninterrupted line till 1803, when the Gurkhas invaded Kumaon and Garhwal, driving the Garhwal chief into the plains. For twelve years the Gurkhas ruled the country with a rod of iron, until a series of encroachments by them on British territory led to the war with Nepal in 1814. At the termination of the campaign, Garhwal and Kumaon were converted into British districts, while the Tehri principality was restored to a son of the former chief. Since annexation, Garhwal has rapidly advanced in material prosperity. Pop. (1901) 429,900. Two battalions of the Indian army (the 39th Garhwal Rifles) are recruited in the district, which also contains the military cantonment of Lansdowne. Grain and coarse cloth are exported, and salt, borax, live-stock and wool are imported, the trade with Tibet being considerable. The administrative headquarters are at the village of Pauri, but Srinagar is the largest place. This is an important mart, as is also Kotdwara, the terminus of a branch of the Oudh and Rohilkhand railway from Najibabad.
2. A native state, also known as Tehri, after its capital; area 4180 sq. m.; pop. (1901) 268,885. It adjoins the district mentioned above, and its topographical features are similar. It contains the sources of both the Ganges and the Jumna, which are visited by thousands of Hindu pilgrims. The gross revenue is about £28,000, of which nearly half is derived from forests. No tribute is paid to the British government.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)